Galesburg-Augusta seeks $16.5M bond for new athletics complex, classrooms

Kalamazoo County

GALESBURG, Mich. (WOOD) — For more than five decades, the Galesburg-Augusta Rams have called Maskill Field home. However, Jeff Merasco, who helps with the school’s Friday night operations in the fall, is among the administrators saying its age is starting to show.

“We’ve tried to maintain it the best we can,” Merasco explained. “But we’ve had some assessments done — It just needs to be all tore back up and redone, which is going to be as expensive as building a whole new stadium complex.”

Galesburg-Augusta Community Schools Superintendent Wendy Somers echoes that sentiment, saying renovations would not be a holistic solution.

“Back in 2019, they were projecting at least $3.4 million just to do that, and it would still lack some of the facilities that we need,” Somers said.

Area voters will have an opportunity to have a new home built for the Rams through an upcoming school bond. If approved on Nov. 2, the $16.5 million bond will help fund a new athletics complex. It will bring a new football field by the high school, along with additional parking, concessions, toilets and also an 8-lane track — the current one hasn’t been used in 20 years.

“It’s kind of embarrassing when you have other schools coming to visit, and not having the proper facilities for them,” Merasco said.

Somers explains Galesburg-Augusta’s long-standing facilities were grandfathered into MHSAA and state safety measures over the years. But any renovations to the existing structures would strip the district of those privileges, which she believes justifies the call for a replacement.

“As soon as we hit the dirt with any way to improve the safety, to be able to put in a real track, take care of bleachers — all of that — it means we have to come up to all the new ADA regulations,” Somers said. “That’s a big task.”

Athletics account for only 40% of the bond, according to administrators.

With administrators saying the primary school is ‘at capacity,’ space and security in the schools are also an issue.

Fourth graders were moved from the primary school to the middle school, while 8th graders went to a separate wing at Galesburg-Augusta High. Galesburg-Augusta Primary School Principal Shaun Sportel says the bond would provide funding for additional classrooms and a dedicated secure drop-off area for preschool families.

“They don’t have to go all the way through the building,” Sportell explained. “It would allow for better security and a better flow for the parents to come for pickup.”

How much will county taxpayers be covering if the bond passes? According to Superintendent Somers, the taxpayer whose property value is $100,000 or less, which she says is average for the area, will pay $5 per month towards the bond, which amounts to $60 per year.

The projects are expected to be done by fall 2023, if voters approve the bond at the ballot box.

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